Road Accident Fund
intervenes in fraudulent RAF claims by attorneys
It has now become apparent that the Road Accident Fund (RAF) and the courts are not willing to entertain unlawful contingency fees that are being charged by some lawyers.
A very well known firm, Bobroff & Partners, that was previously shown the door by the North Gauteng High Court is alleged to have again been implicated in thousands of cases of illegal contingency agreements, according to the RAF. It what appears to be a well oiled system, many of these firms including this one, appear to have a system in place in which they send patients for excessive examinations, and have to claimants sign contingency fee agreements that exceed the allowed 25% maximum contingency amount of the total claim.
I am well aware of firms who routinely send simple whiplash claimants to orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, and occupational therapists after having sent the claimants for questionable CT scans, MRI scans and X-rays of unrelated body systems. Many of the claimants know fully well that there is a great chance of success of the claim being settled out of court by these “big shot firms.” I peronally know of a claimant who was paid a ‘settlement’ of R 70 000, for a whiplash claim purely because she had been to such specialists, and the RAF panel attorneys decided to settle rather than litigate.
I have seen the reports of many of these respected specialist colleagues, and they appear to have a template delivery with sometimes, not much specialist type of detailed information. Of course the fees paid to these esteemed colleagues justify their ability to have practices in some of the most expensive real estate in the centre of Sandton. I state this , as it is impossible to a comprehensive neurological assessment for a claimant within 15 minutes, after the history and assessments forms were completed by administrative staff at the same practices.
I have no doubt my esteemed colleagues are indeed skilled in the specific disciplines, but this does not mean specialisation qualifications necessarily result in better assessments according to AMA Guides 6th Edition. The AMA Guides does not specify that a specialist doctor needs to examine the claimant, and further, as per the Guides the required impairment assessment can be done by any competent and Board Certified Medical Doctor.
The RAF alleged in it papers that the Bobroff & Partners firm, which comprises of Ronald Bobroff and his son Darren, and many assistants who manage the paperwork in the booming practice, have claimed more that R 1.9 billion from the RAF for various claimants. It is alleged that it is possible that up to 40% of these funds may have been retained by the firms, based on the illegal contingency agreements, which the firms claim is legal ‘in common law’.
The North Gauteng High Court has already found that the agreements used by this firm and other forms relating to work and claims against the Road Accident Fund, is illegal. Not only did the court ask the firms to refund the amount more than the 25%, but it ordered that the full amount be refunded to the claimant with interest. The firm applied for leave to appeal in this matter, but the full bench of 3 judges in the same court, denied any leave to appeal as they found no grounds for such.
In the same case brought to court by Jennifer and Matthew Graham in the North Gauteng High Court, in which the RAF has applied to be a party, the applicants have sought to have the said father and son struck off from the roll for their activities. It is alleged in the application, as detailed in the Personal Finance, that the pair may have also been involved in falsify documents and other supporting evidence in their previous claims against the RAF.
It is further alleged that in this same matter the Law Society of the Northern Provinces has not yet completed any investigations into these matters despite the complaints to it preceding the court applications. It is indeed ironic that it the same Ronald Bobroff who was himself a President of the Law Society. I am not sure ff it a close proximity to the society, or just the fact that the society may implicitly support such ‘common law agreements, as is alleged by the firm in this matter.
All in all, there are fees to to be claimed, and up to 25% of the claim that the said attorneys can claim. Anything more than this is pure greed, by ‘officers of the court’.